No. 284
The President to the Acting Secretary of State1

top secret

In spite of all our current preoccupations in the European difficulties, I think it most important that we have the assurance that there is going to be no possibility of driving a wedge between ourselves and our principal European allies, especially Britain, in any action we may be forced to take. I cannot over-emphasize how deeply I believe this to be true. The matter was brought to my mind with special force because of the recent incident in the Sea of Japan and Knowland’s public statement with respect to it.2

The reading of Allison’s summary of the convictions of the British Laborite3 only serves to underscore this great need. What [Page 578] would you think of a telegram to Winston [Churchill] somewhat along the following lines:

“Dear Winston:

I think that when you seized the opportunity to send your recent message to Adenauer,4 you took action that may yet save to us many of the advantages we hoped to gain in Europe through EDC. I was delighted also to see the reasonable and cooperative spirit that Adenauer showed in his reply.

While all these things go on, we can not afford to forget that all along the Eastern edge of Asia, from the Bering Sea to Indonesia, there is a constantly boiling kettle of possible trouble. Incidents of small and large magnitude constantly occur, and at any moment one or both of us could be confronted with a situation that would require from us clear-cut and even decisive action. The presence of this kind of risk serves to emphasize again the great truth that the free world cannot possibly prosper should there be any major cleavage between yourselves and ourselves. Of course we should always like France, Germany and our other European friends and—indeed—all non-Iron Curtain countries to stand shoulder to shoulder with us in any conceivable crisis. But the foundation of multiple-lateral action must be the closest of understanding and purpose between Britain and America.

An awkward situation arises out of the fact that some years ago your government recognized Red China while we clung, and still cling, to the theory that the Communist ruling clique there is a conspiracy and is not a government in the civilized meaning of the word. As a result of this divergence, we might conceivably have great difficulty in concerting our policies and actions in the event that there should begin an aggression out of continental China against Formosa. This matter troubles me much because I am certain that American public opinion overwhelmingly favors any necessary action on our part to make certain of the defeat of any such attempt. I must say also that I believe that America is morally bound to take such action under these circumstances and that it would be definitely in the interests of the whole free world to do so.

Where do you think your government would stand in such a contingency? I assure you that I do not expect you to give me an answer that would be considered a commitment on the part of your government. But if you and I should find that our thinking ran somewhat parallel upon these momentous possibilities, then we might arrange to put some of our trusted advisers together to study the matter further—even to include the methods by which we could induce other allies to share our convictions and our attitudes. With warm personal regard, Signed Ike.”

I am asking Mrs. Whitman to read this to you over the White House phone this evening because I would like to know whether you approve in general of the effort and the general tenor of my [Page 579] presentation. If you so agree, she will send the whole thing to you by teletype—after which you can edit it, and if you think necessary, call me back before dispatching. I think it should go as a Top Secret telegram to Winston. I thought at one time of sending this as a Secret letter in the pouch so that no one aside from yourself would know its contents, but I have since decided that if it has any virtue at all, our own Ambassador in London and Anthony [Eden] should both know of its contents. Signed Dwight D. Eisenhower.5

  1. Teletype message; filed with a memorandum of Sept. 14 from Dulles to Eisenhower.
  2. Reference is to a telegram of Sept. 5 from Knowland to Eisenhower, which Knowland released to the press on the same day, urging a break in diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. For text of the telegram, see the New York Times, Sept. 6, 1954.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 280.
  4. For text of the message from Churchill to West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, see the letter from Churchill to Eisenhower, Sept. 3, vol. v, Part 2, p. 1144. Adenauer’s response is not printed.
  5. A memorandum of Sept. 8 from Murphy to Smith reported that Murphy, Merchant, and Robertson thought it would be inadvisable to send a message to Churchill until the President had made a decision regarding the defense of the offshore islands. A memorandum of Sept. 14 from Dulles to Eisenhower reads: “I am inclined to think that it would be better to hold this up for the time being. If the inquiry were put, I think it might lead to a counter inquiry as to our intentions and that until we have explored further the suggestion which I made at the Denver NSC meeting [on Sept. 12], it is better not to expose ourselves to this line of questioning.” (Both 793.00/9–1454)